Preventing the spread of invasive species

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- It's Invasive Species Week, and the Virginia Department of Forestry told us the invasive plants, insects and other animals here in the Valley are a difficult problem to solve because of how easily they're spread.

Patti Nylander, with the Virginia Department of Forestry, says invasive plants are often spread when seeds stick to the shoes and clothes of people hiking through the woods and are brought with them to new areas the next time they hike.

Nylander says one increasingly common invasive insect she sees is the Emerald Ash Borer, which is often found in firewood and spreads when people move firewood, especially when camping.

Nylander says it is important for everyone to do what they can to prevent spreading invasive species.

"Early detection is really key," she said, "because these plants can spread and grow so quickly, once they start getting established they can be really hard to remove."

Invasive animals are also a problem.

She says people will release exotic animals and fish they had as pets but can't take care of anymore, which are extremely harmful to the native species. She says this issue is avoidable.

"Just do your homework beforehand," Nylander said. "If you're looking at getting an exotic pet, do your research, do your homework and understand the responsibility that you have to take care of it."

Invasive species have almost no natural predators to decrease their population so they spread quickly and easily, and they often don't even provide nutritional benefits to native plant-eating animals or pollinating insects.

Nylander says if you recognize an invasive plant in your yard you should remove it. She encourages people to use native plants in their landscaping.